TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

By Apr20,2024

TikTok Notes is coming — and the new text and photo-sharing app is not just an Instagram clone. Here’s everything we know about the platform so far. TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

Everything TikTok can do, Instagram can do better — and vice versa.

While the other social media platforms have been racing to keep up with TikTok’s short-form video offering since it burst onto the market in 2016, TikTok has flipped the script with the launch of its own photo-sharing app.

TikTok Notes, a direct rival to Instagram’s original offering, is now available to download in specific regions. We had Bufferoos based in both of those regions test it out and share some insights (and some pretty neat screenshots). 

This may all change when (or if) TikTok rolls out TikTok Notes to the rest of the world — so do take this all with a grain of salt — but here’s everything we’ve uncovered so far. 

1. It’s currently available in Canada and Australia

After eagle-eyed coders spotted mentions of “TikTok Photos” in the backend of the app in March 2023, TikTok has rolled out their new platform — now dubbed TikTok Notes — on Canadian and Australian app stores. 

It’s also prompting users in these markets to opt in or out of photo-sharing between TikTok and TikTok Notes with a pop-up in the original TikTok app (more on this below). 

2. It syncs with your TikTok account (sort of)

Like Threads and Instagram, there’s no need to sign up for a new account when you download the TikTok photo app. That said, your settings on TikTok Notes will not automatically be synced with your settings on TikTok (including privacy settings). 

If you prefer to keep your content private, this is something you’ll have to turn on manually on TikTok Notes. 

3. The main feed has a two-column grid

Pinterest, is that you? The main feed on TikTok has photo posts spread out over two columns, similar to the layout of the Pinterest app. 

In the feeds, each post will feature the main image, the post headline, profile picture and handle of the creator, and like count. 

TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

4. There’s a ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feed

Just like the TikTok app, users can easily tap between a Following and a For You feed. The former will only showcase posts from people they follow, while the For You feed, which the app seems to open on, will show recommended content based on the TikTok algorithm.

TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

 

5. It pulls through your TikTok photo posts

TikTok has been encouraging users to share single and carousel-style photos in the app for months, and now it makes sense! Photos shared on TikTok will automatically be posted on TikTok Notes. 

Mike Eckstein, Buffer’s product marketing manager based in Australia, confirmed it pulls through older photo posts from TikTok, too. It pulled through an old carousel he shared several months ago on TikTok, pictured below.  

TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

In the notification mentioned above, TikTok is alerting users that they’ll be automatically opted in to photo sharing on the TikTok Notes app. The wording of the notification makes it seem like opting in for sharing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have an active TikTok Notes account. 

“Your existing and future public photo posts will be shown on the app,” the message says. “If you prefer not to show your public photo posts on TikTok Notes, turn this off now.” 

6. The focus seems to be useful over aesthetic content

While aesthetic photos and feeds continue to dominate Instagram, TikTok Notes seems to want to charge in the other direction, in which helpful content is king. 

“Discover useful notes” is the tagline on one of their app store images, where explainers and how-to posts dominate the feed. Other promo shots include posts that, while visually appealing, are not overly edited either. 

7. Your posts will have headlines and long captions 

TikTok Notes posts will allow for headlines along with captions of up to 4,000 characters, almost double what is allowed in Instagram (2,200).

TikTok Notes: Everything We Know About the New Photo App (+ Screenshots)

This signals that TikTok SEO (search engine optimization) will be a strong component of the Notes app as well, a powerful tool creators can leverage to give their content the best possible chance of appearing in search results. 

It also supports my theory above that content that will perform well on Notes will be functional, rather than just nice to look at. 

It’s telling that the platform will be called TikTok Notes, rather than TikTok photos.

8. E-commerce is likely the end goal

As Social Media Today points out, TikTok might be trying to recreate the success Xiaohongshu (a local version of Instagram) has seen in the Chinese market, particularly after it added some shopping features.

This could actually bode well for creators who rely on affiliate marketing for income. TikTok itself doesn’t really make link-sharing easy, so a platform that better supports that could be a welcome addition to those looking to monetize on TikTok. 

9. There’s no global release date yet

The launch in Canada and Australia doesn’t necessarily mean the TikTok Notes will be hitting global app stores any time soon. I found the wording of their statement really interesting: “We're in the early stages of experimenting with a dedicated space for photo and text content with TikTok Notes,” the company said in a statement. “TikTok Notes is available for download and limited testing in Australia and Canada.”

Their mention of “early stages” and “limited testing” signals that they’re far from ready for a global rollout and almost implies that, should this test not be successful, they’ll scrap the project.

For what it’s worth, I hope they do go ahead. There has been some chatter on various platforms about how “we don’t need another app,” which is fair, but I think Notes could be a promising network for both creators and brands. For one thing, it’s a heck of a lot easier to create photo posts with meaningful captions than it is to create videos… Watch this space for more.  

Plan, create, and schedule content to get more exposure and engagement with Buffer's TikTok scheduling and analytics tools.

Get ready for TikTok Notes

If you’re a social media manager or creator, it can’t hurt to do some prep work ahead of TikTok Notes’ launch in your region. I’d suggest repurposing some content from LinkedIn or Instagram over on TikTok as photos or carousels, so you have some content live on your profile when the app is available. Don’t forget to share your photos at the best time to post on TikTok for maximum reach.

Here are some resources to get you started:

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